May 31, 2013, 6:00 AM —
We have a plethora of choices when it comes to ways to watch video in our living rooms, everything from the clunky old set top box that your cable company provides, to slick little streamers like the Roku, to game consoles.
Well soon enough we're going to have one more option: FanTV:
FanTV appears to have had its coming out party at the D11 conference yesterday. FanTV aims to condense your streaming player, cable box and DVR into one small device, and then serve up content via universal searches and a remote that basically looks like a trackpad.
It's an interesting idea, but success of FanTV will rely on a couple of factors. First, the DVR is a cloud DVR, which means you're going to want a robust broadband service with no cap, or at least a very high cap.
Second, it's going to require buy-in from the cable companies. As mentioned, FanTV is supposed to replace your cable box, but it doesn't have a coax port. Instead, providers will have to be willing to offer their entire channel line-up via IPTV. I'm not sure cable providers in the US are ready to take that step, and if they were I think that devices like Google TV or the Xbox One would already have deals in place. It's hard for me to imagine that FanTV can broker a deal with Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Cox Cable, etc and so on, when neither Google or Microsoft seems to have been able to, but I'd love to be wrong.
If they do manage it, this could be a pretty nifty device. Imagine having live TV, your DVR'd content, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon VOD (none of these streaming services are confirmed, I'm just assuming) all accessible via one single UI.
Bonus points for the fact that FanTV is so small.
FanTV is supposed to be out later this year. No pricing has been announced, but they did tell All Things D that you'd be able to get FanTV from your cable provider or direct from the company. I'll speculate that your cable provider (if they offer FanTV at all) will be happy to lease you a FanTV for $12 or $15 a month in the same way they offer DVRs and set top boxes now.
For a deeper look at FanTV, check out coverage over at The Verge:
I can't help but be skeptical about FanTV, but I hope they prove me wrong and manage to get buy-in from some major players in the cable industry. I would love to ditch my big clunky cable box and awkward remote for this sexy little device.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.